My travels made possible by the fellowship did what travel is supposed to do- it opened up for me new worlds and new ways of thinking about architecture. I went to Europe to student building ornament, but I found myself intrigued and excited by the other end of the scale- the context of the architecture and architecture as context.
In meeting and talking with European architects, particularly in Berlin and the Ticino, I found that they held an attitude very different from that of their American counterparts. The did not design buildings per se, but saw themselves as making contributions to a larger, communal built work- the city. As young architecture students, this notion of the city as design was a revelation to me, one that eventually steered me toward the path my career is currently taking.
Upon my return from Europe, I sought an internship with Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk. I was fortunate to work at a number of their new towns, where I was able to study first hand the nexus between architecture and context. I have since returned to my hometown of Austin, Texas, currently one of the fastest growing cities in the country, where I am able to fully participate in the important act of city building. I work for an architecture firm (Sinclair Black & Andrew Vernooy, AIA) that specializes in urban design, and I am currently directing an ambitious project to restore Guadeloupe Street, an important, historic commercial street bordering the University of Texas campus. I can only hope to give back a small portion of what I gained from the SOM Fellowship.